Crusades (BBC)

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History Documentary hosted by Terry Jones, published by BBC in 1995 - English narration

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Image: Crusades-Cover.jpg

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Co-writer and presenter of Crusades, Terry Jones has a solid academic background in medieval history, but he's also an ex-Python, which makes for an entertaining combination of erudition and wit in this four-part BBC series. Instead of the usual parade of talking heads, Crusades employs actors in costume, actors pretending to be mosaics, and some nifty computer animation to enliven proceedings--although nothing compares to the animation of the presenter himself, whose enthusiasm is repeatedly demonstrated, whether in his interview with the descendant of a divinely inspired goose or in his game attempt to walk across the desert in full armour. Jones tackles the Byzantine (pardon the pun) complexities of 11th- and 12th-century European and Middle-Eastern history with a confident lightness, for example when describing the knightly conflict over the apparently pacifist teaching of Jesus ("Knights had no teddy-bears, no wonder they lashed out in a crisis") or the recruiting methods for the first crusade (shown as a propaganda newsreel). Refreshingly, he is also at pains to redress the historical imbalance by presenting the Crusades from the Arabic perspective, too, devoting lengthy but always enthralling exposition to the origin of the Islamic Jihad, and travelling across the Middle East to do so. Indeed, Jones enables us to view the shocking depredations of the crusaders through the eyes of the highly civilised, highly sophisticated Arabs whose lands were invaded by (literally) hordes of boorish, illiterate, savage, murderous Western barbarians who believed themselves to be on a mission from God to kill (and sometimes even eat) every pagan in the Holy Land (and rather a lot of Eastern Christians along the way, too). Fascinating and entertaining, if only all history could be made this much fun. For those who want to read more, there is a companion

[edit] Pilgrims in Arms

Former Monty Python star Terry Jones explores the history of the Crusades. He embarks on a journey to discover exactly what happened nine hundred years ago when the Pope instigated a popular campaign to conquer Jerusalem. Following the route of the crusaders through the Byzantine Empire, whose ruler had made the mistake of asking for help against Turkish invaders, he uncovers a tragicomedy of savagery, greed and ignorance.

[edit] Jerusalem

Encased in medieval armour and resembling an armed dustbin, Terry Jones sets out on the 1000-mile walk from the Bosporus to the Holy City - a journey that took the Crusaders two years. Terry recounts how four in five Crusaders died on the road trying to cross a mountain in torrential rain wearing 200 pounds of iron, and how they became religious fanatics and cannibals who slaughtered a defenceless population.

[edit] Jihad

Terry Jones describes how the crusaders lost Jerusalem in 1144 to Zengi, the Arab leader. A second crusade fell foul of Zengi's son, Nur el-Din, who planned to surround the crusaders by gaining control of Egypt. For this he employed a Kurdish general - Shirkuh - and his nephew Saladin. After Nur el-Din's mysterious death, Saladin succeeded him in Damascus, a daunting figure who was wholly committed to the jihad, or holy war.

[edit] Destruction

Terry Jones reports on how Richard the Lionheart set out to do battle with the legendary Saladin and discovers that inevitably, Richard was an unsatisfactory hero. Terry then re-stages the Fourth Crusade as part of the Venice festival and finds out how the Crusaders destroyed the world's largest Christian city in a bloody orgy. The final chapter of the story sees the rise of Muslim fanaticism as a mirror to Christian ferocity.

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: XviD ISO MPEG-4
  • Video Bitrate: 1858 kbps
  • Video Resolution: 720 x 528
  • Video Aspect Ratio: (4:3)
  • Frames Per Second: 29
  • Audio Codec: 0x2000 (Dolby AC3)
  • Audio Bitrate: 128 kb/s AC3 48000 Hz
  • Audio Streams: 2
  • Audio Languages: English
  • RunTime Per Part: 50.Mins
  • Number Of Parts: 4
  • Part Size: 700 MB
  • Source: DVD
  • Encoded by: Harry65

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